South Africa: Mandela Lecture highlights justice as the key to international peace

“Peace and justice must work side by side, and prioritizing one over the other jeopardizes the odds of both.”

These were the words of former Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Madame Fatou Bensouda, when she spoke on Wednesday the 19th

Bensouda gave her speech virtually from The Hague in the Netherlands as COVID-19 considerations prevented a personal presentation of the annual lecture.

In her talk, entitled “The Rule of Law, International Criminal Justice and its Contribution to Sustainable Development,” Bensouda noted that Goal 16 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) highlighted three key elements: peace, justice and strong institutions.

“I remind other human rights practitioners of the importance for communities to understand that the promise of peace comes with justice and accountability.

“I believe this package is a more sustainable recipe for realizing Madiba’s vision of transitional justice, be it through reparation or the transformation of political and social systems.

“It is important for governments – especially democratic governments – to understand that their main role is to protect the rights of citizens – be they economic, political or social … duty,” said Bensouda.

The online audience was also addressed by Ms. Graça Machel, Professor Njabulo Ndebele, and Nelson Mandela Foundation CEO Sello Hatang.

After the lecture, Bensouda took part in a question-and-answer session with lawyer and activist Lwando Xaso.

Professor Ndebele, Chair of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees, gave the 19th lecture a solid framework and examined, among other things, the effects of the wave of official violence that rocked South Africa in July on the rule of law and the constitutional state.

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